Dive In!

Well, let’s pile through this, starting with …socks!

Top left is a self-striping yarn from LIDL, Zettl Sockenwolle Cortina. Just after I finished them, the word on Rav was that Cortina was being pulled and buyers refunded because the stuff felted! These are about a year old, getting tight, and have felted slightly through wear, not washing – so I’m happy enough. Another pair, recently finished, will appear soon. Well, soon for me…

The blue pair is in Katia Merino Baby, a wonderfully soft yarn I picked up in Christine’s of Bournville (a wee treasure house – go there if you can). I did a slipstitch pattern on them, but the wool is so soft and fuzzy that the definition has all but vanished. I also picked up Katia Merino DK for socks for myself – haven’t got round to trying it though. The remaining socks are with the good old Teddy sock yarn from the Bull Ring. The one with the cabled ankles (Ankle of Green Cables, ho ho ho!) has never been on the offspring – the cables draw in too much to fit over his chunky wee limbs – nonetheless, they make a fetching phone sock. The others are my usual negative stripe and Fibonacci in what I poshly call my Crab Apple colours.

Heading north, to Hats!

The pink cloche, Big Belle, is a last-minute, no-pattern knit for Pink Day at school – a fundraiser for breast cancer. I don’t have much pink, apart from a too-small PVC jacket, so I cast on top-down in my one remaining ball of Sirdar Bigga, increasing and trying on as I went. The last few rows were done ‘flat’ in reverse stocking stitch, with a couple of stitches cast on to make the tab that the button is sewn to. It’s a tight fit and maybe a bit too pointy, but looks okay.

The jester’s hat (Borg Queen) is Fool’s Gold, but in gold Hjertegarn Natur Uld that I picked up on hols in Gothenburg, and some leftover Sirdar Big Softie from Begotha. There were some mods for using superbulky. Also, I didn’t bother knitting the 5-stitch hat band. Instead, I picked up stitches afterwards, 2×2 rib for 5 rows, and then did a knitted Picot edging, which l think looks better… I then crocheted chains and sewed them in place on the opposing colours of the crown (no pun intended). I love this hat, though it really only sits on my head. I may have to make another, maybe with more tentacley peaks.

The Spiderman balaclava (Peter Parker Picked a Perfect Period to Press for this Present) is my 100th project!

The Mighty Offspring asked me to tell Santa to buy him a Spiderman mask for Christmas – on 22nd December! I had no idea where to buy one now that Woolies is gone, and no desire to spend time trekking through the shops in the run-up to Christmas, so I decided to cobble something together. The pattern is based loosely on Jackyll and Hide and We Call Him Spidey.  It was finished with a couple of hours to spare – HANDS LIKE CLAWS!!! I went off-chart with exhaustion, eye-fuddle and any other excuse about the eyehole area, but it looks okay for all that. It IS too big, though it would be probably be fine if I sewed some shirring elastic into the collar. MO was speechless when he saw it hanging on the Christmas tree! On recovering the power of speech though, he put in a request for a Venom mask… He’s making do with his father’s BSJ hat in the meantime, pulled down over his face.

The remaining two are a Drops pattern, made with the recommended yarn, Drops Eskimo! I must have come over peculiar to actually use the yarn for the pattern, it’s just not like me at all. I even bought the yarn (from Scandinavian Knitting Design, good value and fast delivery) with the pattern in mind! However, I saved myself by not using the recommended Drops Puddel for the trim. Instead I used some Patons Lush fancy yarn that I picked up on eBay a couple of years ago. It’s a little sparkly and adds some girliness to the hats, which do get compliments. There was only just enough yarn in the balls to complete them, but they do run a bit large – even with my tight knitting. I lightly felted them a few weeks ago and the fit is much better.  The jumper I’m wearing in the photos is a handknit that I liberated from a charity shop. It’s a chunky yarn, 100% wool, with big hairy guard hairs through it. Itchy as all get out, but I don’t mind. £4! I also liberated an off-white fishermans rib crewneck and a blue and white marl 4×4 rib turtleneck, both too large for me so given to X, and a soft and fuzzy Shetland wool jumper with an Aztec-look Fair-Isle design, all for similar prices.

So, lowering the tone to the neck region – scarves!

The first two were last Christmas’s gifts to Mum and Ma-In-Law – Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and DK respectively. The pattern is a Rav-only download, Anthro-Inspired Scarflet. I got lucky and picked up exactly the right brooch the church Christmas Fayre for Mum’s pink scarf, but couldn’t find anything for the lavendar one, so instead I crocheted a rose using the same pattern I used for the Mighty Offspring’s Christening Shawl. Looks effective, no? My own version is an iron grey yarn from eBay, Knitwitz Camel – 30% camel, 30% alpaca, 40% wool. Very resistant to blocking, as you can see. The brooch is a vintage bone daisy, picked up at the same Fayre along with a matching necklace.

The scarf on the left is Ragged Robin, a reverse-engineering of Annie Modesitt’s Ruffled Roses which is available only through LYS in the US, hence the reverse engineering. The green is Teddy 4ply, but the ‘rose’ is Jaeger Fur, a super-chunky wool-mohair blend that I stumbled across in Northfield’s Pins & Needles. The yardage is tiny – 22yds – but I still have about half the ball left! It’s a bit pouffy and OTT, but livens up a dull suit and is surprisingly warm.

The bobbly purple scarf below left is not a triumph of Aran bobbles, but a very simple scarf made with Teddy Pom-Tiddly-Om-Pom. At £2 in the Bullring, it was 75% off – you couldn’t be bad to it. The yarn came in a great tangled mass, and I wound up cutting it 4 times – yes, me, the master untangler of mohair and laceweight, defeated by novelty yarn. While knitting I just tied the ends together, cutting off any inconvenient bobbles on the way. The bobbles are big enough to hide the ends of the knots! I cast on 5 stitches, one between each bobble. On the second row, I knit into the front and back of each stitch (10sts). Then continued till I ran out of yarn. It really looks like it’s going horribly wrong for the first 6 rows or so, when the bobbles lie down and start behaving themselves. Be patient.

The lacy little number is another Christine’s of Bournville find, Katia Tobago. The colours really are that vivid. Okay maybe not – the camera was playing up at the time. The pattern is Queen Anne’s Lace, which, though really quite simple, manages to be oddly tricky. You need to do EXACTLY what the pattern says, even if it seems a bit odd at first. I made this for Ma-In-Law for what I thought might possibly her birthday – I only have a rough idea of when this is, as X had no idea of the date at all. Unfortunately, this was around the time things came to a head between us, so I have no idea what she thinks of it, or indeed if she even received it.

I think that will do for now. I do have a few more scarves to include, but they are either not quite finished or I have no photos as yet. Only the finished product will appear, m’dears.

T’ra fn!

K

A boo, frou-frou, and a big Bamboo

Well, I didn’t get to the wedding – by the time I got clearance from the school, it would have cost over 300 pounds for self and offspring, and would have involved travelling at stupid o’clock. So I took the day off anyway and spent it doing computery stuff. I installed a new hard drive (250g) in the old computer, discovering along the way that I didn’t have a particular cable I needed. I also discovered there was no point in transferring the Firewire card to the new computer as it has an unconnected 1394 port in the front panel – it would cost a few pounds to install one. So the FW card goes back in the old computer. The old 20g hard drive is now in a portable powered fanned external case. May use it purely for music.

Crafting: clicky to my first pattern, for hair scrunchies, see left! Though this is a bit of a cheat, to get myself linked on Ravelry as a designer – shh! don’t tell anyone! I do intend to produce patterns but haven’t got round to it yet.

It came through one of those D’oh! moments – when you realise the answer has been staring you in the face. I have very fine, flyaway hair. It needs to be restrained in a lot of situations – housework, work, nappy-changing, etc. The only product that will keep the hair in place is Brylcreem – half a jar usually does the trick, but it’s not a look I’m keen on. Any fixings you care to mention – combs, ribbons, elastics, kirby-grips – either fall out, or damage my hair. The only thing that stands a chance of staying in place without snapping the hair are scrunchies. For some reason, though, the few that I can find are usually in hideous colours.

So I was about to throw out an old fuzzy black one, randomly wishing I could get more and thinking the fuzzy would make a nice scarf, when it hit me I could make the blasted things with fancy yarns… D’oh! Hence the pattern – crochet, if you’re interested. On the plus side, since I’d got the fancy yarns to make scarves for myself, all the scrunchies have mysteriously turned out to be in lovely colours that tone with my wardrobe!

I have also put together a shortie scarf/ruff affair. I’ve found a scarf to be too long and gappy for some of my winter coats, and thought that a big-collared jumper would work better – only without the jumper… so I knit this collar-and-yoke thingy in Sirdar Bigga (Etna colourway), which I found unbanded in the Bull-Ring for 69p. It’s a 2×2 rib on the collar, 3×3 rib on the yoke by picking up the bar between the paired knits and purls. Finished with a belt buckle from the same source.

Finally – another Bull-Ring bargain: pure bamboo yarn, unbanded, also 69p. They had the same stuff on the shelves. I thought I’d just try a little random swatching to see what it was like to knit with, then I saw Knitting magazine had printed one of Joan McGowan-Michael’s patterns from Knitting Lingerie Style – Silk Slip. It’s basically just a bra: you sew a silk ‘skirt’ to it. I’m almost finished the first cup, after a few modifications for my voluptuousness. The straps are supposed to be single crochet, but I think I might use the lace bit to knit thicker straps for comfort. I’m also uncomfortable about sewing (!) so the skirt may wind up being knitted too…

TTFN

K

Happy New Yarn!

Er, Year…

Yarn’s been on my mind recently.

Well duh…

I’m having a bit of a crisis..

I hates the coloured-up yarn… but… I have happily knitted up stuff in the coloured-up yarn, and loved it. This is causing my head pain.

I’ve also just bought these – unbanded mystery yarn from the Bullring yarne shoppe. Pink in shades from Baby to Crack Ho with flashes of toffee to keep it tasteful, and what initially looks to be silver tinselly bits woven in, but on closer inspection is tiny strips of clear cellophane-type material. Sounds … DIRE. But actually quite nice. Something for Niece #1 possibly. The second a boucle in Browns, all the way from ecru to taupe. Woo! (Oh yes, in case I forgot to mensh, not loving the boucle slubby nubby stuff either). I shall make a camel from it (I am hoping to make a Noah’s Ark and a Nativity scene this year), or maybe some sheep. I have also been deeply taken by this (scroll down to Liquorice). And today I almost bought a green, white and orange mohair in Rackham’s sale – my father would be pirouetting in his grave, no mean feat for a man who made Triple H look petite. Sorry, petit. Hell no – I DO mean petite. Ma daddy was a MAN.

Admittedly, I’m thinking scarves, kiddie stuff, weird amigurumi toy stuff – where the maddcolorz either don’t really matter or are absolutely essential to the project. I’d never do a sweater in the tricolour mohair f’rinstance (well, not for a grown-up. E.g., me, or someone my age or younger and more than, say, 10. My mum – maybe. If she acted her age). But I’d make myself a shrug in the pinky. And even contemplate a big ol’ sudden-cold-snap-and-the-heating-dies cardi/jacket in the Liquorice. What gives, as our colonial cousins would say?

I’m struggling with this. Okay, first off, if we’re talking animals (camels, sheep, etc), then anything goes for the effect. Kids, again, well the girlies love the spangles, and the boys haven’t fallen into the Boring Man-Rut yet. Scarves – anything goes. They’re an accessory, so you might want to make one scarf matching several different outfits – multicoloured is therefore good. Shawls and wraps, OTH, look nasty in multis*. Like you were using up all the leftovers in your stash – nothing wrong with that, just, well. But could you not make a Fair Isle at least? Make it look less like a desperate “oh shite, I’m running out of wool so I’ll just make a Dr Who scarf type thing” project. Not that I’D EVAR use a shawl anyhoo**.

It’s the Liquorice cardi that throws me.

So, let’s approach this from the other side. Arans do not need maddcolorz. In fact, anything with a stitch pattern, even something as basic as basketweave, doesn’t need maddcolorz. I go so far as to say knitted lace doesn’t need maddcolorz, though I’ve only done one lace pattern myself. So, anything with textural or sculptural qualities should be done in one colour – not multi-coloured, tweed, flecked, handpainted, etc. If it’s just acres of stockinette, go for it. If it’s kiddy, or special- occasion like a shrug or do-it-all like a scarf – go for it. If it’s for an elderly person – take your pick. Toys, intarsia, Fair Isle, it goes without saying.

That Liquorice cardi is still bugging me…

Ta ta
K

* Please note these are the opinions of the author, expressed after 6 beers, 2 bottles of wine, and a hefty brandy in the early hours of New Year’s Day, and are not meant to be taken seriously as meaning anything. If you handpaint/dye your own yarn, The Author is deeply jealous of you and wishes she had a more co-operative toddler so she could do likewise. If you are enamoured of the maddcolorz yarn and never use anything else – well, so does The Author. Okay she does use other stuff and MAKES A BIG THANG OF IT, but she breaks her own rulez lotz tuu.

** I’ve been reading some interesting Ravelry threads on attitudes towards knitting, crochet, handcrafts generally. One thing that pops out is that all the handcrafts are associated with being poor, lower-class, etc. That’s shawls to me. They’re for people who can’t afford proper warm coats, or decent heating in their homes (I include here home-made coats, and self-felled timber or self-dug turf fires – whatever). Afghans fall in the same category. People who need shawls or afghans to stay warm are people who can’t (because of age or infirmity) or won’t (because of laziness) provide the needful for themselves. I’m a snob.

This WILL have HAS pics…

Eventually… The pics are taken and awaiting upload from my phone.

The scarf is finished, ends woven in, washed and blocked. The rather stringy, fine mohair bloomed nicely – the resulting fabric appears solid until you look closely, allowing the lace flowers stand out well. The pics don’t really do justice – I was hoping to hang it by a window so you could see the light coming through, but had to settle for laying it on white paper. I shall hand it over on Thursday rather than Friday as she has a do to go to and might like to wear it.

My sister’s bag is boarded, lined and sewn up, and lacks only the fastening. The specs cases for Mum and MIL are finished too, including the label inside. These won’t be in time for Christmas unfortunately. I won’t even get them off until Saturday.

I’m also well into Libby’s amigurumi unicorn – head and body completed to the start of the bum, and stuffed as far as possible. I still have a little time to work on it, as I won’t see them until after Christmas Day anyway. I’m not entirely thrilled with the shape, as the head and neck extend more or less straight out from the body making it look more like a goose than a horse. Before I started, I did think it needed some short-rowing where the lower neck reaches the body – i.e., no building up of the back until the chest is in place. That would mean turning the work and working backwards. I can’t see an amigurumi way of doing it, except maybe by making the pieces separately and sewing them together in the right configuration. There’s a lot of shaping involved and correct stuffing is crucial.

ION, the deputy head was most distressed to see me knitting during break. Apparently I should be planning lessons. It has been pointed out that I am not in fact a qualified teacher, have no regular classes and therefore do not have PPA time, and am in possession of a contract that specifically forbids me from planning lessons (even though I DO, because there’s usually no coverwork). So he gave it as his opinion that I should be doing anything but knitting. Possibly helping out in the canteen, or cleaning the toilets then.

No scarf for him!

If he had any sense, he’d be begging me to run an after-school club for the tards…

Kxxx

Christmas Bag

Finished the first Christmas bag (for my sister), but it still needs to be lined. Also the instructions call for a fancy button, but I’m leaning towards a couple of plain satchel fastenings.

Also some pics of double-knitting, which I larned masel on a trip to Ireland recently. It’s just a practice piece. I’ve put together some designs for baby blankies, one of which is just on the needles but there’s no urgency to complete.

I have also decided to make spectacle cases for Mum and MIL – both occasionally wear glasses and are always losing them. So I got some cheap cases at the weekend and have already knitted a cover for one in Paton’s Lush in Autumn, a bright red-yellow-purple mix. Try losing that. The second is half-complete. I may do a mobile phone cosy for SIL.

My friend’s daughter has become fascinated by unicorns. And guess what pattern appeared in the last issue of Crochet??! Must start pull-caking the chenille. Wish I could remember what size hook I used last time.

And it turns out Friday is not a training day as I’d thought, but a real, honest-to-goodness day off!! So I’ll go into town and get some supplies at the Bullring – lining fabric, fasteners, maybe craft glue – and probably Abraham’s Santa present.

T’ra
K

New work

Since the last post, I started my first ever lace knitting project, began the Christmas knitathon, am not substantially further on with the Bob the Builder jumper, and went back to Ireland for a night… It was about the right length of time for a visit home!

My big baby brother turned 40 at the end of October, but the surprise party was on the 10th November. And surprise it was – he’s been like a wasp since his actual birthday because nobody made any fuss, just the odd card and well-wishing, a small token present or two. Organising the party was no mean feat for his wife, as he has been off work with a broken arm for the last few weeks and was underfoot every time she tried to write an invitation or make a phone call. But he was completely fooled. The only tricky bit was that they had to send him into the North on the day on a series of pointless but “urgent” errands, and of course I was coming down from Aldergrove to Kesh, along any route he might take, staying with my sister who he might drop in on for a cup of tea… Any other guest seen travelling down could be explained, but why would I be coming over to Ireland in secret??? It was a good night, there shall be YouTube evidence of the big man DANCING as soon as YouTube deigns to co-operate, and Mum was looking more relaxed, younger and less strained than she has done for years.

I don’t think we’re fully aware yet of the toll on her of caring for Dad in the last few years. None of us knew she had to dress him, for example. I knew she was bathing him, but thought that was just back-scrubbing where he couldn’t reach – ffs TH does that for me! It seems he was more incapacitated than he let on to anyone. The unravelling of his life continues.

So, to wips: the lace scarf was inspired by a cone of black mohair (or fluffy string) I found dumped outside a late neighbour’s house. How grue is that?! She must have been a machine knitter, because there were other bits and bobs – including pieces of knitting machine – lying about, obviously fallen out of bins and not picked up by our delightful and hard-working binmen. The scarf pattern is merely of 8×6-petal flowers with a garter-stitch border, nothing exciting. However it has been frogged about 6 times to date: I have only managed to do 3 rows of flowers, and one of those has only 7 flowers on it. The next row would have had only 5, as the total number of stitches had dropped from 64 to 44! I have no idea how this happened. It’s not as if I’m not well used to textured patterns. It’s not like I can’t count! I checked and rechecked and double-checked the pattern, the number of stitches on the needle, counted and re-counted the pattern stitches off and checked again that the fluffiness or the yos weren’t ‘creating’ stitches – and still I either had too many stitches or too few at the end of each row. The only row that work out right is the one where the Offspring was torturing me for walks and purpo juice and cuggles. If it ever works, I’ll give it to the Offspring’s childminder.

The knitathon is just to make little token gifts for Mum, my sis, and my MIL. Last year I made a skinny scarf and gloves set in eyelash yarn for them – the gloves were actually purchased black fleece jobs, but I knitted matching eyelash-yarn cuffs for them. And didn’t take pics – pity, as it was quite effective. This year, I saw an interesting pattern in Simply Knitting mag. Weeell, pattern. Anyhoo. Tis a baggie. Supposedly, a bedroom cushion (does anyone really have these things, unless they’re selling the house?) which doubles as a nightwear holder (again, does ANYONE use these things?), which presumably provides the cushiony goodness, otherwise you wind up with a nightie case and a teeny cushionpad lying on the floor. There’s 2 yarns, and something goin on between them. Naturally, the two yarns are only available on the second moon of Tau Ceti 6 during the bicentennial eclipse, but only to quadripeds. But I got some Patons Lush (surprisingly soft) to substitute for the sparkly yarn, and for the other I’ve quadruple-plied some thin chenille from the stash. That’s looking good, like sari yarn. I’ll make up two versions, one in blues on eau-de-nil chenille, and the other in autumn colours on wine chenille. I figure I’ll just give them, they can use them as they want. In my sis’s case, (blue/eau-de-nil version) I hope she will use it to pick out colours for her bedroom in the new house. Please God. Anything so long as next visit I don’t have to wander around saying how well I think donkey pink, terracotta and putty beige go together (*shudder*).

On Bob, I’m about halfway up the helmet bit on the front, having begun working flat from the armholes. Ho hum. Erm. That’s about it.

And I should be Ravelry -bound in the next couple of days!!!

T’ra
K

Ravelry update:

  • You signed up on October 19, 2007
  • You are #46355 on the list.
  • 510 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 10365 people are behind you in line.
  • 79% of the list has been invited so far

 

Designing!!

This is my first attempt at designing something from scratch!!! Details are sketchy below, as I want to market this in some form, either the item itself or the pattern based on it. So be warned this is copyright to me, do not copy, or attempt to recreate/sell or otherwise use the details here for personal gain: this is simply a record for information only.

Though that should be from scratch-ish, now that I think of it… the sleeves from elbow to wrist are the same as those of the shrug I made my sister – using needles of different sizes to create a lacy effect. However, with this the lower sleeves start wide, and are reduced towards the elbow. There’s ribbons threaded through at the elbow.

The top however is solid, small needles throughout, with stitches increased towards the middle and then reduced towards the opposite sleeve, where the large needle is re-introduced and stitch number is increased towards the wrist. In the centre portion, a circle for the head is removed by placing stitches on a small circular needle to be knitted up later as a collar. Mine is Dracula’s cloak-shaped, with points that stick up round my head, but I have plans for other shapes, including a Scottish Widow’s hood. I also have plans for a tight-sleeved (possibly gloved) cyber version in fluorescent colours and stripes, and possibly an open-fronted all-lace one in some yummy Astrakhan wool.

The inspiration is shown in the second photo. Us gothy types can suffer a degree of discomfort as a result of our dress, especially when the weather is too mild for a heavy coat but still chilly enough to require some covering over bosoms and arms. I could see a less ornate version being suitable for wear over strappy summer tops for those barbeques on a breezy summer twilight. It’s not really a poncho, too short even for a cropped sweater – it should not obscure the delightful outfit below it: about nipple-length is right.

I call it the Corset Cosy (TM).

Ay thenk yew.